Somewhere special to eat
What he once did for Otago rugby and the Maori All Blacks, Steve “Hotty” Hotton is doing for the cuisine of the Waitaki Valley. For several years, when he played the sport professionally in Europe and for a time afterwards, he also apprenticed himself to the owners of family-owned cafés and restaurants in France and Italy. There he learned the importance of producing a really good coffee and the techniques of making simple food emphatically delicious.
While most of the locals still pine for their white bread sandwiches and filled rolls, visitors travelling through the valley – especially those on the A2O trail – are raving about the snacks and lunches at the Valley Café, especially Steve’s merino pie, an entirely different species from the grey and greasy mutton pie. Then there are the twicecooked pork bellies, the creamy, fragrant, pale-yellow Moroccan chicken pie, pizzas with pizzazz, salmon steaks and various merino cuts in season: neck steaks, back straps, marinated leg steaks... enough food to feed the entire team.
While learning his trade in France and Italy, Steve became entranced with charcuterie, the dried and smoked meats of those countries. Gamekeeper Products are sold within The Valley Café where Steve makes and sells cinnamon bacon and various dried and smoked meats as well as stuffed pigs’ hocks, duck confit, rabbit confit, mutton ham, rillettes, porc farce (swoon) and 10 different types of really chunky sausages with neither fillers nor preservatives. The most famous of these are the Pipsqueakers, a kids’ sausage with a bit of
meat and a lot of vegetables.
Summer hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm, and late night Friday. Winter hours: Wednesday to Sunday 9am to 4pm. Gamekeeper Products & The Valley Café, 16 Bledisloe Street, (03) 436 0138